Google Pushes Forward with RCS Rich Messaging Too

Posted on February 24, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud with 12 Comments

Google Pushes Forward with RCS Rich Messaging Too

As you may know, Google offers next-generation messaging clients like Allo and Duo. But the firm is also working to improve the normal SMS/MMS experience on Android too.

Confusingly, this involves more messaging apps. Because of course it does.

Google announced Allo—for text messaging—and Duo—for video messaging—at its Google I/O 2016 conference last May. Since then, it began rolling out Duo in August, and then Allo in September. Like other modern messaging apps, Allo and Duo integrate with bots and agents, in this case the Google Assistant. In other words, they are much like the Skype Preview app on Windows 10, which itself used to be two (sorry, three) separate apps before Microsoft got over that little bit of insanity.

But Allo and Duo are doubly confusing because they do not replace the stock Android SMS/MMS app, which is called Messenger.

Today, however, Google announced a new messaging app that will replace Messenger in Android. (But not Allo or Duo, of course; those will continue separately.) The idea this time around is to improve the SMS/MMS standards by working with the industry.

So this new app, called Android Messages, will work with SMS and MMS, of course, but also a modern version of this technology called Rich Communications Services, or RCS.

This won’t work unless Google works with wireless carriers, however. And we know how awful that can be. So Google is announcing today that 27 carriers and device makers from around the world have agreed to let it replace Messages with Android Messages and take advantage of modern messaging functionality. Left unsaid is that many hundreds more have not agreed, I guess. (Here in the US, I believe only Sprint has agreed.)

(And it’s not just phone makers holding this back. As you might expect, some of the biggest Android device makers, notably Samsung, are nowhere to be seen in this announcement.)

In any event, for those lucky few who do eventually get upgraded to Android Messages, you will see a single new client for SMS, MMS, and RCS. Features unique to RCS include the ability to search and share all types of content and easily access your messages, branded business messaging (like from your airline the day of a flight), and more. Google is also jumpstarting an RCS early access program for businesses so they can dive right into that stuff.

You can learn more about Google’s RCS work on the—wait for it—Jibe website. Why Jibe? Because all of this stuff has to be so confusing.


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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Google Pushes Forward with RCS Rich Messaging Too”

  1. jcschmidt31

    Android Messages is a rebrand of Messenger nothing more. As for Jibe, they bought jibe awhile ago as they had already started working on a universal profile for carriers to utilize RCS. Hopefully, more carriers get on board.

  2. wunderbar

    Android Messages is just an update to the "Google Messenger" app as we've known it. Google Messenger already supported RCS on a few carriers, the update from yesterday just expands the support a bit, so the only real change here is the name of the app.

  3. Omega Ra

    I am on AT&T with an unlocked Pixel XL and I got upgraded to Android Messages today, though I don't know if it has the RCS stuff.

    • Nicholas Kathrein

      In reply to Omega Ra:

      I got this update this morning too but that is just because your on a Google device. I'm on the Nexus 6p. To do the RCS part of this which is all the stuff that you can't do on normal txt messages that apps like Facebook messenger let you do. You and I on TMoible won't be able to get our messages to show up as you send them to others.

    • wunderbar

      In reply to Omega Ra:

      It'll have the RCS stuff built in (and in fact already did, this update is mostly just a name change), but since AT&T Doesn't use RCS it'll just send messages as SMS.

    • Chris_Kez

      In reply to Omega Ra:

      I got Android Messages on my Nexus 5X on AT&T. The app icon is unchanged and the only thing I noticed were stickers. It's possible they were there before and I never noticed them. They're terrible btw. I'm not against the idea of stickers, but the ones they have in this app are just terrible. Not as bad as the stock blob emojis, but still bad in their own unique way.

  4. Waethorn

    If Google is putting out a default messaging app, why can't they do the same thing with the phone dialer and contact management?

  5. wshwe

    RCS is a mess because it's being implemented differently by the carriers.

    • bassoprofundo

      In reply to wshwe:

      Yeah... don't count on AT&T jumping on the standards bandwagon anytime soon. We already have "Advanced Messaging" which, for me, works with a grand total of ONE other person I text... that is to say... one other person who doesn't use an iPhone AND happens to use an AT&T approved Android device capable of supporting the feature.

  6. Chris_Kez

    I wonder if these RCS messages will take up appreciably more bandwidth than SMS/MMS, and if that will lead US carriers to re-think their unlimited messaging deals.

  7. Daekar

    I want very badly for this to work. I hope the carriers play ball without too much fuss.

  8. lordbaal1

    so this is what, their 1,000th. messager app.

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